Some people go to great lengths to get a dashing smile. Whether it’s whitening or undergoing invisalign treatment at practices such as Monkmoor Dental Practice, the goal is the same; to have a smile that can rival celebrities on the red carpet.
Now, imagine a smile being flashed by a friend, relative, or someone you’ve just met. About eight times out of ten, you’ll likely smile back, without even realising it. It’s almost a perfectly automatic response. So have you ever wondered why a smile is so contagious?
A Biological Tendency
You’re a natural mimic. Humans learn by copying actions and words. This is the same when it comes to emotions. Researchers refer to the concept of facial mimicry, which humans use to empathise or even experience another person’s feelings. According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, people do this in an attempt to simulate emotions and try to make them feel it themselves.
It is said that empathy is one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of the human race. Just think of this situation: you see a friend with a sad face, and you want to help. To do so, you have to understand why they feel that way. Facial mimicry tendencies make you adopt the same sad face, in an attempt to empathise.
The study even outlines a step-by-step process to explaining this phenomenon. Step 1 involves seeing an expressive face, which triggers the brain to want to know how to react effectively. Step 2 is the simulation stage, where you unconsciously mimic the expression. Step 3 is the brain making you realise how the expression feels simply by mimicking it. It’s a quick, automatic response that allows for meaningful social interactions.
There is a saying that goes, “monkey see, monkey do”. Mimicry is a vital cog in the interaction of humans. Without a reference on how to do something right, you’re unlikely to know what to do unless you let your natural instincts drive you. This fact of life is evident in smiling, smiling makes people smile.